Apple’s iPhone 4S could be experiencing battery issues.
According to an Oct. 28 report in The Guardian, Apple engineers have been reaching out to iPhone 4S users in the United Kingdom, in an apparent attempt to grapple with tumbling battery life on the devices. The newspaper quotes one user as saying their battery power dropped 10 percent every hour the device remained in standby mode.
Apple has yet to issue an official statement on the matter.
Meanwhile, a discussion thread on Apple’s Website is filling with users irate over their iPhone 4S battery life. “I checked and all my settings are similar to my iPhone 4 (i.e., Bluetooth and ping off, brightness pretty low, etc.),” one wrote. “Seems to lose 1 percent every 3-4 minutes, even when locked/asleep.”
Others on that thread reported battery drain approaching 15-20 percent per hour. Possible solutions seem to range from a full restoration to disabling notifications.
In the broadest strokes-i.e., confused users, rumors of Apple engineers pursuing a software fix and intense media scrutiny-the situation with the iPhone 4S recalls that of the iPhone 4, whose blockbuster release in 2010 was nonetheless marred by reports of dropped calls whenever users gripped the device in a certain way with bare hands.
Eventually, Apple issued free rubber bumpers to iPhone 4 owners; the bumpers were designed to block the device’s exterior antenna rim from skin contact. The company maintained that program for a few months following the iPhone 4’s release, before shutting down the whole issue with a note on its Website. In the end, it ended up paying out some $175 million in bumpers.
A survey by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster suggested that the antenna issues, combined with Apple’s reliance on AT&T as its exclusive iPhone carrier, had harmed sales of the device. That viewpoint was indirectly countered by Apple’s then-COO Tim Cook, who said during a July 2010 earnings call: “We’re selling everything we can make.”
Cook, of course, is now CEO of Apple. Should reports of an iPhone 4S battery issue escalate to the point where the company needs to make a public response, he’ll almost certainly be the executive tasked with presenting it. Cook is reputedly far calmer than his predecessor, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, which could translate into an utterly different approach to damage control.